The summer holidays can be an expensive ordeal, so it always nice to have a few free activities to have in your pocket for whenthe kids are driving you up the wall in the house, but you don’t want to have to spend too much money. Or, if you’re looking for an interesting way to explore the historic city then these free things to do in York will inspire you to explore the beautiful city.
1. Museum Gardens
Found in the centre of town, York Museum Gardens is an incredible botanical garden that sits next to the River Ouse. It is the former grounds of St Mary’s Abbey and there are some great remains of the former Abbey on the 10-acre gardens of which you can wander around and enjoy all for free!
2. YO1 Beach Club
Not fancy heading miles out to the beach this summer? York has its own Riverside beach you can take your kids to this summer right in the heart of York. Found next to RIver Ouse, the YO1 Beach Club is a great place to entertain the littles ones this summer – and it’s free to enter!
3. National Railway Museum
Dive into the past, present and future at the National Railway Museum. Explore and learn the history of rail transport and how it shaped our lives. There is always something new on including the fastest steam locomotive, inventions like the Rocket and more.
Free to enter, but obvs you have to pay for food and shopping, but feel free to explore the wonderous Spark:York. Built from shipping containers, the place is chock full of independent businesses and they’re always putting on cool events to look out for.
5. Treasurer’s House Gardens
Just near the Minster is a secret garden, the Treasurer’s House, which is an idyllic place to take a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds of the well-kept gardens. Why not chill out on the benches with ice cream? It’s free to enter and is such a beautiful spot tucked away down a side alley.
6. The York Minster
York’s cathedral church is one of the finest pieces of architecture in the world. Its tower is the highest point in York and can be seen from most places in the city. The Minster itself has a charge to enter, but you can enjoy the exterior of the medieval building as well as the gardens that sit to the left of the ancient building.
7. York’s Street Markets & The Shambles
Found just off the main square in the centre of York, the York Markets offer up unique items and fresh food from local and independent traders – you can wander around them and take in the sights and sounds without having to spend a penny. Just at the back of the markets is the famous Shambles, which is often compared to Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series and actually has many magical wizard themed shops to browse.
8. Walk The Walls
The York City Walls or ‘Bar Walls’ encircle the city centre of York and are 2 miles of surviving masonry as well as the longest town walls in England. Built-in the 13th century, you can still walk the walls today and enjoy an elevated view of the city of York. There are some splendid scenes as we meander your way around them and they’re free to walk also.
9. Walk The River Ouse
The River Ouse runs right through the centre of the city of York and is a great way to see the city. You can start from anywhere, but we’d usually start near Clifford’s Tower and work our way down past Museum Gardens. There are some beautiful views across the river on the way and some great places to stop off for a cheeky pint. At times you’ll feel like you are abroad in some beautiful Venician canals or walking along the banks of the Seine in Paris.
10. Watch Street Performers
All over the city centre are weird and wonderful street performers that will perform anything from juggling swords whilst on unicycles, magic tricks to miming – search the streets for the most unique acts. You might even come across York’s famous Purple Man.
11. York Cat Trail
A fun thing to do for young and old, the York Cat Trail is the perfect way to see the sights of York. It takes in such highlights as Clifford’s Tower, Shambles, York Minster and more. The Trail starts at The Cat Gallery Shop and is a self-guided tour that takes around an hour or so. You can get a guide to the trail here.